Coaching Baseball: Off-Season Training

Fall Ball ended, now what?

Like many youth baseball players, they have been playing baseball since early March. That’s about 8 months straight of competitive baseball. Do you know what’s best for your player in the winter? Have you thought about youth baseball off-season training? Let’s dive in for some important things to consider.

Arm Care

Give it a rest! The first thing you should consider is the health of your player’s throwing arm. I tell my high school baseball players at the end of every fall to take a break from throwing until at least the new year.
American Sports Medicine Institute
The ASMI (American Sports Medicine Institute) recommends

No overhead throwing of any kind for at least 2-3 months per year (4 months is preferred). No competitive baseball pitching for at least 4 months per year.

You can see more of their study and recommendations specific to baseball players HERE. The VHSL (Virgina High School League) has adopted new pitching regulations partially using the ASMI findings and recommendations.

Playing Other Sports

Playing other organized sports to in the off-season is important for a couple reasons:

  • Decrease the mental burn-out players have if over exposed to one sport. When the spring rolls around, your player will be re-energized to play baseball competitively again.
  • Increased athleticism. Take basketball for example (a great organized winter sport), when playing you are working on body movements that are not generally trained in baseball specifically but will help with your overall play.

If we stick to one sport year round, I feel that we are training our players to be robotic. They lose that natural ability to react and move during certain plays.

Conditioning

If you don’t have the option of playing a different organized sport, don’t just sit around all winter, there is plenty to do to become a better athlete. The winter is a great time to work on explosiveness, power, strength and flexibility.

Depending on how old your player is, I generally do not recommend heavy weight lifting. This puts way too much pressure on the lower back of our youth baseball players. I have seen first hand the effects of a heavy weight lifting program and the torquing movement of the swing and pitching motion. Especially on youth players that were physically not ready to put 200+ lbs on their back and squat it.

Baseball Gear Button

Rather, to be safe, you should engage in core strengthening exercises, core flexibility, and hamstring flexibility exercises. There are also many exercises, for the youth baseball player and advanced player, that involve training your fast twitch muscles that do not involve HEAVY weight. There are a couple of resources that I would recommend:

  • Check out STACK.com as they “provide credible and reliable information, tools and services to help active sports participants get better at the games they play and the lives they lead.” Here is a sample post from their website: 6 Superior Baseball Conditioning Routines.
    Screen Shot from Stack.com
  • If you are looking for functional equipment to use specific to baseball conditioning in the winter, Check out Oates Specialties. Their products offer the throwing athlete the tools necessary to realize superior arm health, to experience increased competitive endurance, to improve velocity, and develop greater efficiency on the rubber or at the plate.
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    Winter Hitting

    Depending on what part of the country you live in and your access to and your access to indoor space, your player should definitely be hitting a couple times per week The winter is a great time to work on refining to the swing to get it right for the spring. Sometimes it’s difficult to change a part of the swing during the season because the player did not take enough reps to feel comfortable.

    What do you think youth baseball players should be working on in the winter?…or staying away from?

    Stay on plane…
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About CoachK

Owner and head instructor at Colonial Baseball Instruction. CBI serves Southern VA with baseball camps and private lessons. CBI also developed My Coach: Baseball App and sells a variety of baseball training aids.

Comments

  1. “If we stick to one sport year round, I feel that we are training our players to be robotic. ”

    Good point. Other sports teach different skills and focus on different strengths, but those can be applied back to baseball. The sprinting in basketball, for instance, can translate into base running. The hand-eye coordination in tennis can help with batting. Plus, it gives players a much needed mental and physical break.

    • Coach Kuebler says:

      Great point Jodi. I can’t tell you how much racquetball I played in the winter up at UAlbany in New York. And it really helped my game as a third baseman at the hot corner. We played not only because is was incredibly fun and competitive, but we knew it was helping us be a little more well rounded as far as our athleticism was concerned. It helped up with things we did not think about like reaction time, proprioception, etc.

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